Built-ins that create an alcove for freestanding furniture can give pride of place to a new home-theater setup or call attention to the craftsmanship of a fine antique. During the renovation of an 1840s farmhouse, the homeowners asked designers Rick and Liz O'Leary to integrate a handsome chest of drawers into the master bedroom's walk-in closet. The O'Learys responded with a pair of tall shelving units that flank the chest, framing it with just two inches of clearance on either side to give the piece a sense of permanence in the room. The same approach in a master bathroom, with built-in shelving around a vanity table, could provide close-at-hand storage for towels and toiletries, eliminating the need for a medicine cabinet over the sink.
IDEA: Design clothing storage for specific functions. A 10-inch-wide shelf is ideal for men’s shoes, while 8 inches is typically the max required for women’s. Allow 12 inches for folded shirts and sweaters.